And hey man, if it makes you feel any better, the very first time I tried to raise my mast I was doing so under the advice of my dad who used to sail hobies recreationally some 30-40 years ago. I immediately learned that the shrouds are an important thing to attach prior to raising the mast and shortly thereafter how much a mast base costs. That mast when up and then right back down over the bows, breaking the mast base clean off. I'm very fortunate no one was hurt and that the mast didn't receive any real damage. It could have been a lot worse.
But as others have said, you have gotten yourself into one hell of a fun sport and community. In a way I wish I was in your shoes, just so I could take that first white-knuckled sail again.
I really would try to make it out to the regatta (Sail the Bay), not to sail in yet, but just to introduce yourself and get in good with some folks. I've had another event come up on the same weekend that my wife and I attend and just can't pass up, or I would most certainly be there. It's a buoy race, so you may be able to get a decent view of some of the action. I can almost guarantee that they will be more that happy to help. I would try to talk to them once they are back in from racing, just as a courtesy. Not that they would shun you away prior, it's just that most people are doing that last little mental shakedown of their boat before shoving off. Heck, you might get lucky and taken out for a ride.
My first real regatta was a Sail the Bay and I felt very welcomed by the fleet. As a matter of fact, after travelling the four hours to Va Beach for my first race and setting up the boat, I realized I had somehow lost/misplaced the pin that holds the bottom mainsheet block to the traveler. Of course it isn't the same size as anything else on the boat, so there I was watching everyone else shove off with no way for me to join them. A wife of one of the sailors noticed I was still on the beach and came to see what was wrong. I told her of my situation and she immediately started talking to wives and friends of the sailors and sure enough found the part I needed. That's just one of many examples I can share about how awesome the hobie community is. I think the only thing that makes a hobie/beach cat sailor happier than being on their boat, is seeing somebody else on theirs.
Sail it like you stole it. Have fun, man!http://hobiefleet32.com/UPCOMING_EVENTS.html